APIC tries to block OSHA with congressional action  

It ain’t over til it’s over’

The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) rallied its members recently in support of a congressional action that could block controversial respirator fit-testing requirements.

In dropping its hard-fought bid for a separate standard on tuberculosis, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced Dec. 31, 2003, that it will apply its existing general industry respiratory protection standards to health care facilities to protect workers from TB. For infection control professionals, that means annual respirator fit-testing for health care workers — a procedure many ICPs have protested as labor-intensive and unnecessary — is now required.

Emphasizing that the primary risk to health care workers is the undiagnosed TB case, APIC has long objected to OSHA’s focus on respirators and other controls for workers treating known TB patients in isolation. U.S. Rep. Roger Wicker (R-MS), recently added an amendment to a labor, health and education appropriations bill that "will keep hospitals from being forced to implement a costly and unnecessary OSHA regulation related to tuberculosis that is not supported by science or the CDC," APIC stated on its web site. Stay tuned.